Τhe truth emitting from a photo, along with the proper timing, can play a fundamental role on the awareness of public opinion
He is intrigued by topics and thematics that revolve around everyday life human stories, especially the ones set in rural Greece, “where people, unlike city folks, are able to share their stories in a more meaningful and truthful way,” points out photographer Dimitris Tosidis, before adding that “people and life conditions in the countryside ooze a stronger sense of authenticity”. In no way, of course, does he argue that everything is paradise-like, but it is safe to say that nature is his comfort zone both personally and professionally. Therefore it’s no surprise that his photo project “Diava”, which sheds light onto the unexplored identity of mountainous Greece, as reflected in the stories of the nomad stock breeders of Epirus, was bestowed with the 2021 Athens Photo World Award.
After all, the way he sees it, the beauty of the photographer’s job is not to be found in expensive cameras or high-tech lenses. The advice he has in store for every debutant and aspiring photographer is to invest in personal growth, through history, literature and music, rather than material equipment. “They should not be easily impressed, nor they should seek to impress, succumbing to the social media era of likes. It has been proven time and time again, through works and projects that have earned their place in the collective subconscious, that beauty sprangs out of truth. Photographers should seek the truth and make it the founding stone of both their work and their life,” he stresses out.
From his standpoint, the truth emitting from a photo, along with the proper timing, can play a fundamental role on the awareness of public opinion, citing the example of little Aylan’s (whose dead body was washed ashore on the coasts of Turkey, on September 2nd 2015) photo that shook the world. On a personal level, two photos have left a mark on him, serving as guideposts in his professional journey. Both of them were taken by Kostas Balafas (1917-2011), the renowned Greek photographer who turned his lens to the tradition and folklore of Greece, but most of all to the people struggling to overcome harsh living conditions and fighting for their survival.
Still a student, he became infatuated with Balafas’ photo “Epirus”, depicting a mother with her child and a pig, in the area of Konitsa, in the 60s. “This photo portrays in a simple yet powerful way the portrait of an entire era, both in terms of visual representation and historical information,” he mentions. The second photo that remained stuck in his mind is also set in Konitsa, titled “The Death of the Cow”, featuring the faces of a mother and her children while mourning a recently deceased cow. “The photographer chose to capture the family’s agony, rather than the dead cow,” he explains. His own quest for faces, expressions and stories has given birth to the ongoing project “Diava”, which he hopes to assemble in a book, as he has collected a great amount of documents and information on the nomad stock breeders of mountainous Greece to complement his photos.
The versatility of the Greek landscape serves as an infinite source of inspiration, as he points out. “I never feel at work while being in such places, even though in some cases, such as the photos taken as part of the “Diava” project, I found myself face to face with a harsh reality.” In addition, thanks to his collaboration with the International Federation of Sport Climbing, a sport he has practiced ever since a child, his contact with nature is growing more and more frequent. Over the last few years, he was given the chance to photograph his favorite sport within the framework of the most prolific sports events, such as the Olympic Games recently held in Tokyo.
Through this collaboration, he is blessed with a high-level working environment rarely found in Greece. As he explains, working conditions in the foreign news agencies he is working for, such as European Pressphoto Agency, Deutsche Welle and XINHUA, especially when it comes to financial incentives and safety protocols, are far superior to Greek standards. “Foreing agencies invest in quality and the value of each story” he says, while adding that Greece’s geographical location, history and cultural legacy secure its place in the center stage of these agencies. “Greece offers the full package of geography, history, politics and culture. It is a complex place of huge interest. I would never make up the time to search for another place that has all my desires covered to such an extent,” he goes on to say. Nevertheless, he thinks of moving at some point to the countryside, as its slower rhythms would enable him to get better both work-wise and towards the people around him.
“When living in a city we lack the time needed to render the due respect to each topic. More than often we treat people and their stories in an inadequate way that prevents all hidden things from coming out to the surface. As a result, we end up showing disrespect towards the people we’re coming in contact with. I would like to invest in time, without fail”, he stresses out. As for his own benchmark in the field of photojournalism, it is no other than the famous photo of the 2021 Evia wildfires, taken by Kostas Tsakalidis. “It is the very definition of photography on multiple levels: urgency, journalistic information, aesthetic and composition. A piece of work so masterful that paves the way for many of today’s photojournalists,” he concludes.
Dimitris Tosidis (b. 1986) lives in Thessaloniki and works as a photojournalist for Athens News Agency, European Pressphoto Agency, the environmental organization iSea, the International Federation of Sport Climbing, while he is a regulator contributor at Deutsche Welle and XINHUA. He is a graduate of AUTh’s Faculty of Fine Arts and UDK Berlin and a holder of ΜΑ Crisis Journalism and Risk Communication from AUTh’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications. His work focuses on issues of political-social interest, the environment and sports. He has been bestowed with a series of awards, such as the 2017 and 2018 Migration Media Award for his work on the refugee crisis in the Balkans, the 2018, 2019 and 2021 Journalists’ Union of Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers Award, as well as the 2021 Athens Photo World Award for his project “Diava”.